Negev Town Asks Residents to Throw in the Pool Towel

The chairman of the Sedot Negev Regional Council wants to keep the council-operated swimming pool closed this season due to Israel's water crisis, but is seeking residents' approval of the decision. The responses so far indicate that the pool will see no swimmers this season.

Council chairman Meir Yifrach sent text messages to all residents in the council's jurisdiction last week and is to send a letter to every home in the area today to ask residents for their opinions on the matter.

"We are in the midst of a serious water crisis and an ongoing drought, which require reducing water use," he said. "The closing of the pool serves as an educational example, sending a message to residents of the regional council and everyone in Israel that something must be done."

Yifrach said that over the past three days, he has received hundreds of messages supporting his decision, and the council says it hopes other local authorities will follow its lead.

"I am proud of the council residents who have expressed support for the decision, despite the damage to their leisure activities," he said.

In the five years during which the pool has been open, it has attracted dozens of people a day during pool season - though they also come to use the gym, which will remain open even if the pool is closed.

"The council head is doing the smart and right thing," one resident said. "It is inconceivable that at a time when farmers in the council are suffering from a water shortage, other residents will be enjoying themselves in the pool. Even if they decide in the end to open the pool, I don't intend to come as a sign of identification with the farmers."

Tomer Yair, who lives in the Sedot Negev community Ma'agalim, also said he welcomed the decision.

"It's not so terrible if one year instead of going to the pool, we go to the beach," he said.